Inside

So yet another game I just played this week and had to add to my top 5 of the year (along with Virginia, and so taking out Rise of the Tomb Raider and Watch Dogs 2). I knew this was something I’d enjoy, as I was a huge fan of Limbo. It did not disappoint, and although I’m just halfway through (played one session, will finish it in another session), I was constantly enchanted by the admittedly dark visuals and fun puzzles. 

Virginia

I played this in one sitting yesterday, and I have to say, I think I can safely say it’s my favorite gaming experience of the year (and so I had to update my top 5 list). I was completely and utterly mesmerized by the oddly constructed narrative, beautiful score, and lovely aesthetic. As soon as I was finished I went online to read up on what people thought was the meaning of the ending (this Polygon article is pretty good), which is something not a lot of games make me do. Can’t recommend it enough, even though I think it may not be everyone’s cup of tea. 

The Year of Nothing

Néojaponisme has tended to end the year with a collection of short pieces by a bevy of collaborators (including me), looking back at some of the top ideas, topics, and themes that marked Japan that year. This year, as David shares in this essay, nothing much happened, and that’s OK. He also ends with a little tease about a new Néojaponisme project for 2017, and that’s certainly something to get excited about.

Tharsis

I just started playing it a bit last night, and so I’m still in the process of wrapping my head around how best to deal with stuff, but so far I’m already digging the dice mechanics (you roll dice to accomplish various things in the game, from dealing with events, to dealing with your crew by reducing stress, researching projects, etc.) I’m of course partial to games with dice, but I think there’s a lot to like here, including the presentation – although the text can be a bit tough for me to read on my “small” 32″ TV (I’m playing it on PS4, it’s maybe more suited for PC screens).

Abzu

Played this in one sitting last night, and wow, what a stunningly beautiful experience. Definitely in the Flower/Journey vein, but still a lovely experience in its own way, and those undersea environments are just jaw-droppingly gorgeous. Lovely score too, to accompany the visuals. It’s currently on sale on PSN, and so a great time to grab it.

The Making of A Link to the Past

Shmuplations is a fantastic site that digs up classic interviews with video game developers, translating them from the original Japanese. One of the latest interviews shared is this gem with Shigeru Miyamoto, talking about the making of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.

Let’s Speak English, The Book

I wasn’t aware of the web comic by Mary Cagle that this Kickstarter book project draws from, but from what I’m seeing on the Kickstarter page, it looks like a real fun series (as evidenced by the strip above). We are definitely many to have experienced the joys of teaching English in Japan (I did it for years, and it’s what gave me the time to develop my writing skills through my blog) and so it’s great to see something that celebrates and has fun with the activity, instead of just being negative about it. Found via Daniel Feit.